“‘She Was a Sister Sailor’: The Whaling Journals of Mary Brewster, 1845-1851.

This is apparently the first known journal of a whaleman’s wife written aboard ship. She obviously does a great deal of reading aboard ship but gives little detail of what she read or thought about it. Much of her journeys were not in the Arctic.

p. 36, Feb. 4 1846: Were it not for seasickness I should be very comfortable. I get up with it and night finds me with the same symptoms so it unfits me for work and but little of the time I feel like reading.

p. 40, Fri 20th: I am to sick to read think or do anything save roll from one side to the other.

p. 44, March 6: This evening we resumed our old employment that of reading…. Similar references can be found on p. 46, 50, 54, 55, 83, 95, 247, 255, 261, 265, 280 290, etc.

p. 47, footnote, Betsy Morey in 1853: I am much Pleased to see them [seamen] pay so much respect to the Sabath they all wash themselves clean and Change there Clothes and then I can see them with there Books A reading and this seems very pleasant to me.

p. 95: …when being seasick I went to bed, took a book and attempted to loose my feelings in reading but that would not do…So I employed the time in vomiting and watching the time by the clock.

p. 97, an account of a dead young sailor who’d been sent to sea with books from his mother. The books “had not been read.” Frank “intended to wait till a year out and then commence studying….”

p. 101, July 5: My thoughts and mind are taken up with the incidents of the day. I have read some in the Bible but not with the applying heart….

p. 246, June 26, 1846: This evening Mrs Whittlesey has read us a romantic story which our friend pronounced very good, who would think a woman of 50 would feel interested in love stories, when she pretends she prefers a single state of blessedness and occupies the same from choice—

p. 291, Oct 9, 1847: As for employment I seek none, not having the disposition to be at work, so spend a great part in reading and some in writing. So passes the day.

p. 326—account of whaler caught in ice in 1775 with dead still in place.

p. 342, Sunday Aug 25, 1848: I try to amuse myself by reading but some of the Sabbaths are very long. [Footnote notes later 1875 comment by Sallie Smith: “Sundays are about all alike [at] Sea reading and eating are the order of the day.”]

p. 380, on an encounter with the Franklin search vessel Plover.